MY first reaction to Adil Rashid’s criticism of Yorkshire and club captain Andrew Gale in a national newspaper article published this week was one of sadness.
Not sadness that Rashid had made critical comments about the way that the club – and Gale in particular – have handled him in recent times, but sadness that his situation has come to this.
For this is a man whose bowling has given me such great pleasure since he burst on the scene in 2006.
It is a man who has now lost his way to the extent that he is no longer a first-team regular at Yorkshire.
When I read Rashid’s comments that he did not deserve to be dropped last season and that he was not bowled in long enough spells when he was picked to play, comments that he actually made in January but which were only published this week, I immediately thought back to a Friday afternoon of fond reminiscence in July, 2006.
I can picture it now: the day was hazy and pleasantly warm, Scarborough cricket ground looked its salubrious self, and an 18-year-old leg-spinner was busy marking his County Championship debut with figures of 6-67 to help his team to victory by an innings and 67 runs against Warwickshire.
That leg-spinner was Rashid and, given that 18-year-old leg-spinners with the power to win Championship games come around as infrequently as 150th anniversary years, there was an understandable level of interest in this ‘teenage sensation’ – interest which, within three years, had followed him into the England side.
The fall from grace has been spectacular to witness, with Rashid now well down the international pecking order and languishing on the fringes of the Yorkshire XI.
Reading between the lines of Rashid’s remarks, the player himself is as frustrated as anyone with the way things have gone in his career.
One suspects it was irritation with his own loss of form, as much as any irritation with Yorkshire and Gale, which was the real reason behind his unfortunate outburst.
After two splendid seasons in 2008 and 2010, when he took 65 first-class wickets at an average of 31 and 57 wickets at 31, respectively, Rashid averaged 43 per victim with the ball in 2011 and 41 with the ball last summer.
He has failed to back up a promising start.
Talk to the Yorkshire coaching staff about Rashid and the same word always comes back – confidence.
With Rashid, they say, it is all about confidence – having the confidence to toss the ball up, to get it above the batsman’s eye line, to give it the best opportunity to spin.
In effect, that means spinning it with the right trajectory to get people out.
It does not mean pushing it through flat and quick.
To be fair to Yorkshire, that is what they have been saying to Rashid for quite some time.
Jason Gillespie, the club’s first-team coach, has told him that he is not unduly concerned about how many runs he goes for; he just wants him to give the ball plenty of air and one heck of a rip.
Last year, the weather did not help Rashid as conditions were never suited to leg-spin.
His confidence seemed to desert him, he started to push the ball through quicker and lost his place to Azeem Rafiq.
The only way back for him now is plain hard work.
Rashid must grit his teeth, accept his situation and fight to regain his first-team place.
When Rashid is on song, there are few finer sights than watching him purvey one of cricket’s most dazzling arts.
One can only wish him well on the road to revival.